This week, faculty from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration hosted an eCornell webinar to discuss digital marketing strategy amid Covid-19. The presenters, Robert Kwortnik and Bill Carroll, were quick to acknowledge that we are in the midst of a ‘hospitality apocalypse,’ but also discussed the huge promise of digital marketing for recovery.
Here are six lessons shared by the professors for hoteliers (and how Revinate can help hotels implement the practices).
1. Don’t discount rates! It won’t drive bookings
While it’s now generally accepted that discounting isn’t a long term solution, many hotels fall into the trap when they’re looking to drive revenue. Kwortnik aptly pointed out that price isn’t what is keeping people from traveling. Rather, they’re not traveling because they don’t yet feel safe leaving their homes and staying in hotels. So regardless of how low you drop your rates, you won’t find demand.
Revinate Marketing customers have had great success driving bookings through targeted promotions focused on smaller customer segments. Promotions, including free-parking, room upgrades or spa credits help enhance value without discounting rates. In a recent case study interview, Baraba Meltzer of the De L’Europe in Amsterdam said, “Revinate made it easy for us to drive revenue during a difficult time and allowed us to maintain our ADR, which was really important to us.”
2. Continue to engage with guests, even if they’re not traveling
During the webinar, an attendee asked whether hotels should continue to engage with guests that can’t cross the border to travel due to the pandemic. Kwortnik’s advice was to continue to engage with guests to stay top of mind. FOMO is a powerful emotion and email provides an inexpensive channel to reach guests and let them know what’s awaiting them when travel restrictions lift.
If you’re looking for ideas, Revinate regularly shares great email campaigns that our customers create and send to their guest database. Whether it’s sharing a playlist from the lounge or a recipe for the signature cocktail, hotels are finding great ways to continue to engage with guests during the pandemic.
3. ‘Show and tell’ safety protocols
When Kwortnik first saw Bill Marriott’s health and safety video, he admitted to being surprised. In the video, the Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, shows the steps that Marriott is taking to ensure guests’ safety. While cleaning used to be something that happened in the wee hours of the morning, today it is important for guests to see it with their own eyes. Most hotels today are leveraging standard cleaning protocols and ensuring that the hotel website and all hotel listings include details of their policies and procedures.
Revinate Marketing customers include cleaning details on their website, in their promotional emails as well as in pre-stay emails to drive guests’ confidence and help them feel good about their decision to travel. Here’s a great example from Brasada Ranch in Bend, Oregon.
4. Don’t pull back marketing spend
During the webinar, Kwortnik reminded the audience that marketing is an investment, not a cost. Hotels should continue to invest in marketing, especially digital marketing, during the pandemic. He advised hotels to develop plans depending on the phase of the pandemic they were going through, as it differs from region to region. If you’re looking for ideas, Revinate’s Recovery Guide shares strategies that hoteliers can use in each phase of recovery.
5. Invest in systems integration
Data is the key to digital marketing and you can’t market effectively unless you can segment your audience and tailor your messages. One of the reasons why Revinate Marketing is so effective is because it uses guest data from your PMS, Surveys and other solutions and allows you to easily segment your guest database.
Many Revinate customers today are focusing exclusively on their local customers since most travelers are staying close to home. Here’s a great example of targeting local guests, from the Sopwell House.
6. Rethink the service experience
Kwortnik provided many great examples about how hospitality companies today are using technology to meet guests’ new expectations around contactless service. He was quick to point out that much of this technology has existed for a while, but Covid-19 is accelerating its adoption.
This resonated with us because we have been offering guest feedback solutions for years, but today these services are even more critical for hoteliers. Why? The key to success during Covid-19 is in adjusting the standard experience you deliver to proactively match the shifts in your guests’ mentality. As the pandemic evolves, your guests’ expectations (and your on-property operations) do as well.
Hotels who empower teams to adjust the guest experience in real-time will be the same groups to receive glowing reviews and ultimately succeed in capturing demand as it returns. Revinate provides the tools to make this easy. Learn more here.